Husband and wife team Kieran and Imogen Waite have now brought Bristol a second ray of sunshine in the form of cafe and brunch venue Bakers and Co on the busy Gloucester Road.
The duo behind top tapas restaurant Bravas on Cotham Hill have now opened their second venue – the San Francisco-inspired Bakers and Co – at 193 Gloucester Road, the former home of the Bishopston Trading Company.
Authenticity is everything for the pair, who spent a great deal of time researching the tapas bars and food culture of Spain before opening Bravas, and even imported their plancha grill from the country. The same attention to detail is clear at Bakers and Co: head chef Hayley Hastings was flown out to San Francisco pre-launch, dining around the city and spending some time working at the world-renowned Bar Tartine, to create a menu and an atmosphere that are as authentic as possible.
Now, I’ve never been to San Francisco, but it’s certain that Bakers and Co will be another success story for the already vibrant Gloucester Road. The front room of the venue is dominated by the open plan kitchen, flanked by a display counter for cakes and pastries, and a counter at which I sat and watched the team hard at work. Two Tartine cookbooks are easily spotted on the rustic wooden shelves in the kitchen area, alongside loaf upon loaf of a beautiful looking sourdough sitting waiting to be sliced.
Diners can also sit at bright and cheery seats and tables, a combination of bare wood and bright white, with the front room featuring a whole wall of rustic looking wooden planks. As you’d expect from such a long awaited opening, the whole place was virtually packed out just half an hour after the opening time of 10am on the Sunday of my visit.
As you’d expect, Kieran and Imogen are keen to source their ingredients from South West suppliers, with Extract Coffee and Canton Tea featuring on the drinks menu, and Ivy House Farm, Powell’s of Olverston and Celtic Fish and Game appearing among the list of food suppliers.
Catering for breakfasts, brunches and lunches, the menu ranges from lighter options such as pomegranate, blood orange, mint and vanilla yoghurt (£3.50) to a steak sandwich with anchovy and rosemary butter and watercress (£6). Hungrier diners can also choose the Bakers Breakfast (£9.95) – with twists on a “normal” cooked breakfast such as the inclusion of slow cooked beans and avocado, a duck egg rather than a hen egg and their fantastic sounding fennel and black pepper sausages.
One coffee down already on the morning of my visit, I decided to go for the more refreshing option of a glass of homemade lime, mint, cucumber and soda (£2.90). And it was indeed refreshing, the initial tang of the lime giving way to the sweetness of the cucumber and the smallest hint of fresh mint – a cheery summery drink for a rainy morning!
On the food front, it was the Bakers’ Eggs (£7.95) that caught my eye: two eggs baked in a dish with a combination of tomatoes, spinach, roasted peppers and chorizo. I’m not going to deny that it was a long wait (I arrived just after 10 and got my food just after 11…), but in a brand new venue that proves so popular on its opening weekend, I think a bit of a delay is to be expected! With upbeat music playing, the sun starting to appear outside and the theatre of the kitchen in front of me, there are worse places to wait.
I’m glad I arrived hungry. The Bakers’ Eggs is a sizeable dish, it’s fair to say! The combination of the freshness of the tomatoes and peppers, the spinach which was lightly wilted rather than completely blitzed and the smokey and spicy chunks of chorizo made for a hearty yet relatively healthy brunch, while the eggs were cooked beautifully with a solid white and a runny yolk, which I happily mopped up with the slices of beautiful sourdough toast that were nestled in the side of the dish.
At the end of my brunch, a feedback card that accompanied the bill asked me to give details of both positives and negatives of my visit – a great idea for a new business that is obviously looking to maximise the experience of its customers. The only downside for me was a wait on the food: but with a wide variety of dishes at a range of prices to suit all budgets, Kieran and Imogen’s attention to detail and the stunning decor of the building, Bakers and Co is sure to be another Gloucester Road success story.